My father Lt. Billy J. Lamb was part of a group of pilots that were assigned to the 353rd Fighter Squadron on March 7, 1944. He flew his first combat mission eleven days later, on March 18. It was the squadron's 39th mission. He was credited with damaging an ME 109 that day - quite unusual for a pilot to "score" on his very first mission! My dad flew 8 more missions before his final mission on April 15.
My dad's squadron broke formation, on April 15, when the squadron encountered dense cloud cover for a period of time. He ended up below the clouds and ran across a member of his squadron, Lt. Robert Kegebein. Their planes were damaged while they strafed an airdrome near Wittmund, Germany. Strafing airdromes was the most dangerous activity fighter pilots engaged in. My father's last words were "I got a 109 anyway". His plane crashed, just inside the Dutch border, near the village of KLEIN ULSDA. Eye witnesses say he got out of the plane at a very low altitude. It was not clear whether my father's chute failed to open or whether he was just too close to the ground for his chute to have time to open. Lt. Kegebein was able to bail out of his plane and was captured. Lt. Kegebein's survival enabled me to know what happened to my father. The documentation of my dad's last moments was found in Lt. Kegebein's MACR (missing aircrew report). The report was written by Lt. Kegebein, after being liberated from a POW camp.
I would like to acknowledge the decision to strafe the airdrome was after Lt. Kegebein had received orders to set a heading for home. The mission on April 15, had effectively been aborted due to the terrible weather. My dad's and Lt. Kegebein's bravery and commitment to freedom will never be forgotten.
Update - August 5, 2015
This website has been unable to obtain a copy of Lt. Kegebein's report. I have included MACR 4107, which contains an official statement from 1st Lt. Carl G. Bickel. At the time Lt. Lamb (Green 4) was flying as Lt. Bickel's wingman.
354th Fighter Group Operation Report Mission No. 55 - Fighter Sweep over Northern Germany
U.S.A.A.F. Form 34A to Hq Ninth Air Force (Att: 26th SCU). Ref: SECRET
Time up 1133 Time down 1702. Group took off at 0827 on Field Order No. 151 and was recalled after reaching a point 20 miles from the English coast. Group again took off at 1133 per telephone order from Wing and made land fall south of Den Helder and proceeded to north end of target area (Bug) after which one orbit was made and a sweep to the southwest was made. The weather conditions over target area was overcast from 9/10 to 10/10 fog and haze extending to deck making affective strafing impossible. Due to these conditions the group became separated and the majority of them came home on deck. Lt Elrod, 353 got north as far as Oldenburg and blew up a locomotive there. Conditions at home base caused 34 planes to come down at other fields. Weather over channel 6/10 broken cumulus ranging from 300 to 6,000 ft with haze layers between clouds levels. Over continent it became 9/10 to 10/10 cumulus with haze and fog from deck to about 23,000 ft.
No pilots witness the circumstances under which Lts Kegebein (353), Phillips (355) and Lamb (353) were lost. The group reported them as MIA later reports confirmed otherwise.